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Kings of the mountain: West Virginia rallies to top Ohio State

Talk about a tale of two halves.

No. 11 West Virginia (15-3) outscored No. 21 Ohio State (14-6) by 18 points in the second session to eliminate a 12-point halftime deficit and beat the Buckeyes 71-65 Saturday in Morgantown, W.V.

Behind efficient scoring and a stifling defense, the Buckeyes opened up a 14-point first-half advantage. That lead slimmed, however, when the Mountaineers posted the first 10 points of the second half.

After West Virginia closed within one, OSU sophomore guard William Buford caught fire, nailing three consecutive jump shots to vault the Bucks to a 49-43 edge.

But Bob Huggins’ squad wouldn’t go away quietly. The Mountaineers put the squeeze on defensively, forcing Buckeye turnovers, and dominated the boards as the game went on. Forward Kevin Jones, who scored nine points, finished with 11 rebounds- seven offensive- and four blocks.

Da’Sean Butler led West Virginia with 21 points- 16 in the second half- to go with eight rebounds and five assists. His 3-pointer with 6:28 remaining gave the Mountaineers a 62-58 advantage, a lead they would not relinquish.

As usual, junior guard Evan Turner fueled Ohio State, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. But he shot just 6 of 17 from the floor and missed several critical free throws down the stretch. The Bucks converted just one field goal in the contest’s final eight minutes.

OSU climbed within 64-61 after a trio of Turner free throws, but West Virginia scored the game’s next five points, as the Bucks went scoreless for nearly three minutes. Turner missed a pair of free throws, committed a pair of turnovers and forward David Lighty was called for an offensive foul as the game slipped away for Ohio State.

Buford finished with a season-high 22 points and center Dallas Lauderdale collected eight rebounds to go with eight points and four blocks.

For a while, the game appeared to be a role reversal from last year’s meeting between the two schools, when West Virginia obliterated the Buckeyes in Columbus, 76-48. It takes two halves, however, to win a game, and the Mountaineers’ second-half effort proved too much for OSU to handle.

 

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